An estimated 88,000 grandparents are raising a grandchild in Oklahoma, a staggering statistic, which makes programs like Sunbeam’s “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” backpack giveaway all-the-more important.
For 15 years, Sunbeam has hosted the event as a unique way to recognize deserving grandparents who step-in to raise a grandchild. The program helps eliminate the financial burden of back-to-school expenses.
This year organizers provided backpacks full of school essentials to 400 children. Volunteers separated the supplies into three sections, “littles,” “middles,” and “biggers” to accommodate different grade levels. Each bag was crafted by a team of volunteers from the Oklahoma City Police Department, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the Midwest City Police Department, and TRIAD members.
Back to school already? ?? Lots of kids (400 to be exact) will have new backpacks this year ?? thanks to @Sunbeam @OKCPD @EnergyFC Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program. pic.twitter.com/ratFIHqS67— Oklahoma Co. Sheriff (@OkCountySheriff) July 30, 2018
“I just want to thank our seniors for coming out and helping stuff these backpacks. We usually have three days that we work on them, and they did it in 2, so it was record time,” said OCSO Cpl. Kim Lopez.
Sheryl Presley, TRIAD Coordinator with the OKCPD said the department has a history of making contributions towards this endeavor.
“I have to brag on my police officers. Our police officers last year from the Oklahoma City police department gave $6,783.00 just out of their own pockets to help these children,” Presley said.
Senior adults over the age of 55 raising a grandchild with no parent in the home are eligible to apply for Sunbeam's service. Jane Meeks, Sunbeam Marketing and Volunteer Manager said the rate of families requiring assistance rises each year.
“Oklahoma does have a high rate of incarceration, and so that does lend itself to a lot more grandparents raising their grandchildren,” she said.
Other resources at the fair included Allegiance Credit Union, Camp Shiloh, TRIAD, Peaceful Family Solutions, ONIE, Guiding Right WIC, Skyline, and the OKC Energy Football Club.
Thank you @SunbeamOKC for letting us help out with the annual backpack distribution event for your Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program!— Energy FC (@EnergyFC) July 30, 2018
It was an honor to meet so many wonderful people, and we can’t wait to do it again next year!#ForCityAndClub pic.twitter.com/eDemgTeOCe
Sunbeam also extends holiday assistance toward grandparents. Applications are available beginning in October.